The rage against Zachary Quinto
Hollywood star Zachary Quinto has defended controversial comments he made about gay men becoming complacent about HIV.
In an interview with Out magazine in November 2014, the 38-year-old star of Star Trek, who came out in 2011, sought to highlight the alarming increase, for the first time in a decade, of new HIV infections among gay men in the US. The rise in the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that guards against HIV infection, showed that ‘AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the Eighties’, he said, and this ‘comes with a sense of – dare I say – laziness’. The comments sparked outrage online, with many claiming he was ‘slut-shaming’ and speaking from a place of ‘internalised homophobia’.
Last week, Quinto told the Huffington Post that ‘it was not my intention to judge anybody, or to rankle anybody, or to put myself in some kind of superior position by any means’. However, this did little to appease his critics, who once again took to Twitter to express their outrage.
This is a lot of fuss over nothing. Far from criticising promiscuity, Quinto was simply urging gay men not to let their guard down. While no one wants to return to the fear-based prevention tactics of the Eighties, in which gay sex was presented as tantamount to death, this is hardly what Quinto was advocating.
However, the intolerant response to Quinto’s reasonable, if flippant, comments reflects the worrying, McCarthyite bent of LGBT campaigners today, who have a tendency to chastise anyone who diverts from the familiar, agreed-upon scripts. Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel, for example, has been heavily criticised for stating that she doesn’t believe she was born gay. And Quinto found himself in the firing line yet again last month when he told the Telegraph that he didn’t think being gay had hurt his career.
LGBT campaigners’ tendency to howl at the first sight of dissent only distracts from the real issues concerning gay liberation today. If anyone’s lazy, it’s the LGBT conformist brigade, who would rather lose it over Quinto than take on the bigger issues.
Chris Lynch is a student at the University of Cambridge.